Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Enter the Sandbag

So, it's been a long, hectic 11 days since you last saw a blog entry from me and for that I apologize. First, it was work. Things have been hectic and I haven't had the chance to add finishing touches (read: photography) to the drafts that I have stored up and ready to fire off. Then, it was a very nasty bout with the stomach flu that lasted a day and a half. Who knew that if you got sick enough (and vomited enough), you could sleep for over 20 hours in a day and a half?

So, your reward for hanging in there with me is a fresh, right off the cuff blog entry. Here's how The BW-files works: I get an idea rapidly jotted down for an entry and then I spend a week or two (sometimes more) before I post it. Not this time. I'm writing this one and firing it off, right away.

Right when the soreness of last night's workout is still fresh in my mind. And my thighs. And my glutes. And my forearms. And my fingertips.

I finally took the plunge and built my sandbag. I've been putting it off for the above-stated reasons and finally, now that I had the chance to build it, I did it last night. Frankly, I couldn't wait. Ross Enemait has a great article on sandbag construction. Lately, his bags use gravel rather than sand since it's far less messy and far easier to construct. I chose to go the old fashioned route. Another reason for waiting until now to make my sandbag: the job I'm currently at in New Hampshire is one, 15 acre sandpit. I don't need to buy weight.

Besides, if you use gravel or rocks, call it a rock bag. Am I being fussy and a bit OCD? Maybe, but I never claimed to make sense or be perfect (but pretty damned close). He's nowhere perfect either... HE'S A RED SOX FAN!

I understand that if it breaks, it's bound to be messy. When I read his tutorial, I opted to go with the 25 lbs bag increments, using 3 mil contractor clean-up bags. 25 lbs of sand doesn't take up much space in a 40 gallon bag so rather than waste all of that extra bag space, I opted to put some old clothes to good use.

I tied the bag off by twisting the hell out of it and taping it off with duct tape. Then I took the excess, wrapped it back around the sand, and filled the area around the sand with clothes so it would cushion the inner core of sand. Then, I taped up the bag again. Each bag weighs in around 28 lbs when I'm finished. I got four bags into my canvas duffel bag. For a little extra good measure, I added some clothes on the top to keep the zipper from rubbing on the bags.

I don't have a scale heavy enough to measure this thing but I don't think it matters. I found out what a lot of people already know: it's not as much about how much weight you're lifting with a sandbag. It's so unbalanced and unstable that you're always working to keep the damn thing steady while you work out with it!

Since I wanted to use my climbing rope, I decided to go easy on the grip work on the sandbag by working on some shouldering and walking lunge work. Ambition got the better of me and I started out with all of the weights in the bag. That could have been a huge mistake had I continued. Prudence won over and I dropped one weight out of the bag. Always remember this: it's easier to fix undertraining than it is overtraining.

So, my routine was this:
Shoulder the Bag
Walking lunge, 10 steps, put the bag down (I didn't drop it)
Shoulder the Bag, other shoulder
10 more walking lunges
2 trips up the 2"x 12.5' rope

I repeated this four times.

I just don't know why I didn't build one of these so much sooner. It was really hard but it's immensely hard fun. There's just no break for any muscle in the abs, hips or back. It's a small wonder why this training tool is so well-renowned for building functional strength. I really have a new found respect for people that can work with 200 lbs bags! I could probably work this bag for a while before needing to add more weight to it but we'll see how it goes.


Jon C (mtguy) said...

I love sandbag workouts. I remember when I first got into them (1.5 years ago), I did three workouts in one week, my lower back was screaming. So, make sure you ease into them. There a lot of good workouts in Ross' Full Throtle Conditioning.

n8tive said...

I must say that I love my sandbag (I am reminded that I need to use it more)... although I dont use "Sand" rather wood pellets. They filled the bag up nicer and is stiffer.

Btw it is a good thing that I like you & have a good opinion of you before I read this blog, bashing the red sox could get ya hurt!!! Just sayin' ;}